Mesothelioma settlements and verdicts is the primary way patients and families receive financial compensation for the harm they have suffered as a result of asbestos exposure. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer
can help explain the process for obtaining a settlement, as well as discuss other compensation a family may be entitled to receive.
What Are Settlements?
When an asbestos company recognizes that there is strong evidence to support a patient’s or family’s claim for compensation, it will typically offer a settlement to avoid the risk of going to trial. Mesothelioma settlement amounts are negotiated by your lawyer, with a patient or their family members making the final decision on what monetary amount to accept.
Mesothelioma Settlements vs. Verdicts
A majority of mesothelioma cases involve multiple settlements from many different asbestos companies.
The settlement will take into account medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other losses suffered by the plaintiff. The payment must be agreed upon by both parties as a means of resolving their legal dispute, and the settlement may be enforced by court order. In some cases, asbestos companies will wait until the very last minute, just before a verdict is rendered, to make a satisfactory settlement offer. But in many cases, we can get immediate settlements from some of the companies to help you and your family.
In some instances, it is in the plaintiff’s best interests to pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit all the way to a courtroom verdict.
The verdict will determine whether the defendant is liable for the victim’s asbestos exposure and the resulting disease. Once a defendant is found to be liable by a jury, an award will be made to compensate the plaintiff for damages suffered.
A knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney can advise you throughout the process to help you assess settlement offers and decide what is right for you and your family.
Should You Settle or Seek a Verdict?
The decision to accept an asbestos settlement or push on for a courtroom verdict is entirely up to the plaintiff. Armed with knowledge of your case and the defendants, a lawyer can explain the risks and/or rewards of putting your fate in the hands of a jury or accepting a settlement.
Benefits of Settling
There are some clear benefits to settling ─ as long as you feel comfortable that the amount you agree to truly accounts for your loss. The primary benefits of accepting an asbestos settlement include:
- Guaranteed payment: Seeing a case through to verdict can be risky, and a favorable outcome is never guaranteed. When you decide to settle, you are guaranteed to receive the amount of money that was agreed upon.
- Quicker than a trial: Trials can take a long time, and may delay compensation. Although you will likely need to file a lawsuit and begin the process in order to provoke a fair settlement offer, accepting a settlement will be a quicker resolution than seeing your case through to a verdict.
- Privacy: With a mesothelioma settlement, you have the option of keeping the details private. On the other hand, trials ─ and their outcomes ─ are in the public eye.
Should You Take Your Case to Trial?
The decision to go to trial should be made in consultation with your attorney. The decision will be based on the strength of your case, as well as your own willingness to go through a trial. Some families want their stories heard and choose to go to trial for that reason. Others want to resolve their case with a settlement and move on.
Although an experienced trial attorney can help you assess the risk and weigh your options, the decision is ultimately up to you and your family.
Think about your needs and do what’s best for you.
Factors Affecting Settlement Amounts
Each mesothelioma case is unique, and there are many factors that affect settlement amounts. Some of the most common factors include:
A victim’s medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.
Mesothelioma patients and their families can face hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, as well as missing time from work and struggling with other expenses. A lawyer will help you document all of these expenses, as well as future losses, that should be covered in your settlement.
In addition to economic damages that can be clearly calculated, victims often must cope with intangible losses such as physical and emotional pain and suffering, as well as the loss of enjoyment of life. Although it can seem impossible to put a monetary amount on these types of losses, a skilled lawyer will help you decide how to account for these damages as part of a settlement.
Evidence of negligence.
With a thorough investigation and solid evidence, a top-rated mesothelioma attorney will want to show that the asbestos company knew of the dangers of their products but failed to warn people. Companies will weigh the evidence against them and decide to settle based on the financial risk of losing a case in court.
Number of companies involved.
In many cases, asbestos claims name multiple defendants as being responsible for the victim’s asbestos disease. This means there may be multiple settlement negotiations going on, with some defendants choosing to settle their portion of the case rather than risking going to trial.
State where you are pursuing a claim.
Each state has different requirements for proving liability. A seasoned attorney will have a thorough understanding of the laws in your state in order to assess how strong your claim for compensation is.
Having an experienced and recognized asbestos trial lawyer.
Many personal injury law firms will take a mesothelioma case, but only a few are truly focused on this complex area of litigation. Asbestos companies know when they are up against a nationally respected mesothelioma trial lawyer, and they will negotiate accordingly.
Prominent Mesothelioma Settlements & Verdicts
Belluck & Fox, recognized as one of the nation’s leading mesothelioma law firms, has negotiated some of the most prominent settlements and secured record verdicts for patients and their families.
Examples of high-value verdicts and settlements for clients include:
- $32 million for a Navy veteran who was diagnosed after being exposed to asbestos on ships
- $22 million for a construction worker who was diagnosed after being exposed to asbestos on the job
- $19.5 million for a high-rise construction worker who was diagnosed after being exposed to asbestos
What is the Process for a Mesothelioma Settlement?
Although the mesothelioma settlement process is quicker than seeing a case through to a verdict, it does start out in the same way. In order to achieve a maximum settlement offer, an attorney must prepare for a trial and be able to show the defendant that there is a strong chance a jury will side with the plaintiff in court.
The process for a mesothelioma settlement typically involves:
- An initial meeting with a highly qualified mesothelioma attorney. This consultation will be free, and during it you will talk about your work history, service history and medical history. The lawyer will explain what to expect in filing a lawsuit, negotiating for a settlement, and the possibility of going to trial. The attorney will also get authorizations from you to obtain copies of your employment and medical records.
- An in-depth investigation to collect evidence. Your lawyer will talk to you about what you remember about how and when you were exposed to asbestos. Your legal team will conduct extensive research to pinpoint former workplaces or other locations where you were exposed to determine which asbestos company(s) are liable. Your lawyer will also gather documentation such as medical records, proof of lost income, and other evidence to show the damages you and your family have suffered as a result of this mesothelioma diagnosis.
- Filing a complaint with the court. This begins the lawsuit. The complaint names the company(s) that should be held responsible. It will also outline the details of your diagnosis and treatment.
- Exchanging information during discovery. Each side will share the evidence backing up their arguments. Your attorney may take depositions (testimony) from you, as well as former coworkers, medical experts and others. During the discovery process, the defendant is able to assess how strong the plaintiff’s case is.
- Settlement negotiations. Once asbestos companies see the evidence against them, they will typically begin settlement talks. They often start with a lowball offer that pails in comparison to what the victim truly deserves. Especially when a family is financially strapped, it can be tempting to accept a quick settlement. Your attorney will explain each settlement offer and advise you of what to expect with negotiations. Remember that settlement negotiations continue even after a trial has started and can continue up until a verdict is rendered.
- The key to successful settlement negotiations is being prepared to go to trial. As Joseph Belluck, managing partner at Belluck & Fox, explains: “The best mesothelioma lawyers can successfully argue their case before a judge and jury. Defendants recognize when they are up against a well-prepared trial lawyer, and that risk factors into their willingness to negotiate a fair settlement.”
Other Types of Mesothelioma Compensation
Mesothelioma settlements are not the only way to pursue compensation after a diagnosis. Additional compensation and payments may be secured through:
Asbestos bankruptcy funds
Some asbestos manufacturers are no longer in business, or they have filed for bankruptcy. In these cases, compensation can still be obtained by filing a claim through the company’s asbestos trust fund. This is money that was specifically set aside to pay asbestos victims and families. Obtaining money from a trust fund is not the same as filing a lawsuit, but it is not a simple process. A lawyer can help you identify which trust(s) may be liable to you and file your claim for compensation.
For veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their time in the service, VA benefits can provide much-needed financial support. A lawyer who is handling your mesothelioma settlement negotiations should file your VA claim at no additional charge.
Social Security Disability benefits
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma before you hit retirement age, you may be able to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Because asbestos exposure most often occurred on the job, mesothelioma victims may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they had to leave work after being diagnosed.
We can help with all of these options.
Asbestos Lawsuits and Statutes of Limitations
Every state places a different time limit, known as the statute of limitations, on how long people have to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Due to mesothelioma’s long latency period ─ a person can be diagnosed with the cancer 15 to 60 years after exposure ─ the clock begins ticking on the statute of limitations at the time of diagnosis, rather than when the person was first exposed.
For family members who have lost a loved one to the asbestos disease, there is also a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
It is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after a mesothelioma diagnosis to explore your options for financial compensation and ensure you do not miss any deadlines for filing a claim.
Expediting Your Asbestos Lawsuit
There are options for expediting your mesothelioma lawsuit. One of the best ways is to choose a lawyer who has extensive experience in asbestos litigation, one who knows the system and what needs to be done. A knowledgeable lawyer with a history of working in this field will have already done a lot of the legwork and research necessary to craft the foundation of your claim.
Also, depending on the state where you file, there could be a law that mandates expedited handling of claims for people facing life-threatening illnesses.
A skilled mesothelioma attorney will fight to resolve your lawsuit within one year.